Thursday, August 9, 2012

When to be a widow

When to be a widow. 

(this was written in May 2012 when I was playing with a transition in my widowhood experience)
I am a firm believer in always being yourself. Also, I believe that you shouldn’t hide a part of yourself just because it makes you or someone else uncomfortable. I believe that this goes for the beauty and the quirks alike. However, it has come to my attention that now that I am a year and a half away from the death of my husband, maybe I don’t need to be a widow all the time.

This is difficult for me. First off, I guess I don’t even identify myself as a widow all the time, but I reserve the right to feel like one whenever I darn well please. (Weddings, funerals, grocery lines, doctors offices). I don’t like the idea of people saying that I’ve moved past my grief. I consciously know I have moved FORWARD in my grieving, but I don’t think I’ll ever move past it. It does consume less of my time, and when it does consume my time and attention it is in a much different manner.

I used to spend hours at a time hiding in my office supply closet with a trash can and a box of tissues I kept hidden there (probably a significant factor in the end of my employment just a few months after Mike passed). Now my widowhood is expressed in spending hours at a time talking to other widows and widowers online, via text or on the phone, sharing my experiences and trying to help them see love and light in their own. I don’t sit and cry alone very often, but I often think about being a widow, what it means to be a widow, how to support other widows better, better outreach, better support, more funding, how to fundraise and how to help. I also think a lot about how to mesh the love that I have for my late husband with the love that I have for my new partner. How to be fair to both of them, more importantly how to be fair to my heart that won’t give up the ghost of the man that taught it to love but in turn wants to continue life with a man who reciprocates that love.

For example when I am helping a fellow widow move and her friends ask me how I know her, is that one of those moments when I am supposed to lie? She is moving to be with her new lover and mate, and I am no longer a “recent widow”, so are we now just “friends from a while back” so that nobody has to deal with the awkward “ohhh you’re too young to be a widow”... … … “yeah, I told God that and he didn’t listen”... … … “ok I’m going to move this box to the truck now”. But in some way, wouldn’t that also be denying who I am. I am not JUST a widow, but I am a widow.

And I think it is important for people to see that widows do grow up into [partially] functional individuals full of love and life and happiness. I am still a widow even if I’m not fresh and raw.

I don’t think of “widow” as a negative word anymore. I think it is one of the biggest POWER words in my arsenal. Widows are not weak and powerless. We are all, as humans, essentially powerless and widows are freaking amazing! We have loved and lost, and still have the gumption to rise out of bed in the morning. We know ourselves more intimately than those who have not lost because we have seen ourselves when we were mere shells and chose, yes CHOSE, to keep going. I love being a widow. I love the look of shock and awe that people get when they ask why I have a gap in my resume and I tell them I took some time off after my husband passed suddenly. But mostly, I love that I am still standing and that I am still living so I get to tell them all of this with an unabashed smile. I love that they get to see the beauty of a widow, not just the news story and fleeting thought of pity for the wife and kids left behind.


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